For some, bread is life. Whether you love a delicious sandwich or want some toast with your tea, you need good bread. It’s important, then, to understand how to store bread and prolong its shelf life.
How to store bread: Bread should be left at room temperature in a dark, cool place to prevent both a loss of moisture and mold growth. If you won’t be enjoying your bread right away, you can always freeze it, although not in its original plastic bag. Finally, whatever you do, try not to put your bread in the fridge as this will just dry it out faster.
Fresh bread is best consumed within two days but if it is from the grocery store, it can last up to one week.
Different Ways on How to Store Bread
Freezing your bread is an excellent way to preserve its lifespan and a practical way of grocery shopping. However, for better-tasting bread, don’t just toss it in the freezer wrapped in its original packaging.
Unfortunately, the plastic bags that bread come in are far too thin to prevent freezer burn or a loss of moisture. Instead, you will have to re-package your bread.
Freezer bags are the best alternative for loaves of bread. They are more durable and made to withstand harsh temperatures.
If you don’t have large enough freezer bags, you can also use aluminum foil, as long as your loaf of bread is completely covered.
Make sure you label and date your bread when it goes into the freezer so you know what is underneath the lump of foil.
Finally, if you have a solid loaf of bread that you want to freeze, it makes more sense to slice it first.
Bakeries, even those inside grocery stores, will slice bread for you, so think about when you want to use your bread.
Sliced bread takes a lot less time to thaw, meaning you can enjoy your bread from the freezer a lot quicker.
Bread is best when it is stored at room temperature. This is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius.
As you can imagine, bread stored in the winter on your counter will last longer than bread stored in the summer. If you live in a hot or humid area, then storing your bread properly becomes even more important.
They may have gone out of style, but there are a lot of benefits to a bread box. If you have enough space on your counter, you should definitely consider investing in one.
Bread boxes are semi-sealed containers and will keep the right temperature and moisture content around your bread.
They have small holes in them, so air can circulate, which prevents mold, but not enough air exposure that your bread will become stale.
Bread boxes, however, are fairly useless with grocery store bread that comes in plastic bags. Instead they are great if you have fresh bread, without the use of preservatives.
If you are worried about mold or moisture, you can actually place an extra, sliced piece of bread inside. Because sliced bread has more internal surface area, it will absorb any extra moisture, allowing your in-tact loaf to remain preserved.
There is actually a lot of controversy in the bread world over whether bread should be stored in plastic bags or not. While bread in plastic bags from a grocery store is common, you can also get fresh baked bread from a bakery that comes in paper bags.
Basically, if you have fresh baked bread, either from a bakery or your very own kitchen, there won’t be extra preservatives in it. Because of this, bread won’t last long and doesn’t need to be stored in plastic.
Furthermore, without the addition of preservatives, bread can quickly grow mold and a plastic bag will facilitate the growth.
Obviously, if you instead have bread from a grocery store, then keep it in its plastic bag. Along with this storage, be sure to check the best before date that is marked on the bag.
While the best before date is a guideline, it should be fairly accurate with bread.
If you can remember to, always check the best before date when you’re at the store. Often, the loaves at the front of the rack will expire sooner than the ones at the back.
If you don’t’ eat a lot of bread, then you will want a longer lead time before the bread reaches the danger zone and starts growing mold.
For those of you who are torn between plastic and paper, then foil is a welcome middle ground. While paper can preserve the crispiness of the outside of your bread, if you aren’t planning to eat your bread right away, it can quickly dry out.
Plastic is great if your bread already comes in a bag from the grocery store but if you don’t have plastic, or don’t want to use extra plastic products on your food, then foil is a sound alternative.
Wrapping your bread in foil allows it to retain its original moisture content. It won’t dry out or become too stale to eat.
Foil will also prevent extra moisture from entering your bread so mold won’t form right away.
Freshly baked bread should be stored in paper. This is why when you purchase a loaf from a bakery it comes in paper and not plastic.
Most people’s biggest worries about storing bread in paper is that it will become stale too soon. However, fresh bread is best enjoyed within a day or two, which isn’t long enough for the bread to become stale.
If you are really worried about stale bread, there are a few tips you can employ to prevent this.
The first is to use a bread box. As addressed above, a bread box can control the moisture content around your bread. It provides just enough air circulation to prevent mold from growing while not too much to dry out your bread.
If you cut into your loaf of bread but don’t eat it all, save the end crusts of your piece. Then, place it onto the cut loaf, sealing in the soft middle part.
Finally, if you use paper to store your bread, really think about where you will place your loaf.
Some people run out of counter space and place their bread on top of the fridge. Because the fridge is so warm, it will quickly dry out your loaf.
Again, due to space constrictions, many people will place their bread near their dishwasher. However, the humidity your dishwasher produces can quickly spread to your nearby loaf, quickly activating mold to form.
If you can, store your bread in a bread box. If not, find a similar dark, cool area. A cabinet or a drawer can work in a pinch.
We all had that grandma who insisted on putting her bread in the fridge. She insisted that it would last longer and prevent mold from forming. Unfortunately, she was wrong.
A loaf of bread in the fridge will dry out much faster than bread that is at room temperature. In fact, bread undergoes a process called retrogradation, in which the molecules in starch crystalize. As a result, the bread has a stale, tough texture to it.
If you need your bread to last longer, placing it in the freezer is a much better option.
Staling vs. Drying Bread
There are times when you want stale bread. It is good if you need a crostini for your bruschetta, or if you want to elevate your French toast.
However, the more you know about the process of both staling and drying, the better you can utilize them, or if need be, prevent them.
How to stale bread
Stale bread happens when the moisture content of the bread starts to move out of the starch in bread. What was once a soft, moist loaf is now a dense, crusty mess.
As soon as you remove your bread from the oven, it will start the process of staling. However, it is slow and you do want a bit of it to happen.
For example, bread needs a crust and the staling process starts on the outside and works inwards. Basically, the crustier you want your bread to be, the longer you should let it stand after it has been baked before properly packaging and storing it.
How to dry bread
If you want dry bread instead of stale bread, you will need to use an extra heat agent. This could be an oven or a toaster. Toast is, in fact, just dry bread.
When you use extra head, it dries the bread faster, removing any excess moisture. Usually, when you dry bread you slice it for an even drying. It is also easier to control the level of dryness when bread has been sliced.
There are many ways to properly store bread so that it lasts longer.
If you have it at room temperature, you can use paper, plastic, or aluminum foil, depending on when you will be eating it. The freezer also works well for long-term storage.